What to read this summer: “Cultish”, “With Teeth” and more


  • By Kazuo Ishiguro

    During this period of re-familiarizing with in-person (and post-Trump) social existence, I unexpectedly felt grateful for spending time with Girl AF Klara. The hero of Kazuo Ishiguro Klara and the sun, she’s an Artificial Friend, a robot designed to deal with lonely teens in a world that’s a vaguely dystopian version of ours. Klara is also a fascinating first-person narrator, which makes her a kind of low-tech artificial friend for readers of all ages. Both stranger and most intimate of observers, she hones her understanding of the needs, wants and fears – and mysterious illness – of her young owner / companion, Josie. Klara also questions the entangled motives of Josie’s friends and family. Close examination fuels an ever-growing empathy on her part, and with it, haunting glimpses of not only loneliness, but also kindness, inequality, love, death, and attraction. hope and superstition (or is it faith?). A more merciful guide to human emotions and illusions would be hard to find. – Anne Hulbert

    Buy Klara and the sun from Bookshop.org

  • Cover of the book If I had your face by Frances Cha

    By Frances Cha

    In the cruel, intimate, and utterly vibrant world of Frances Cha, a drastic haircut is a statement of identity and plastic surgery an economic lifeline. If I had your face talks about the cruelty of the hierarchy of beauty and the ruthless line that separates the poor and the rich. For the young women Cha talks about, beauty, whether natural or enhanced, is a motto. But while it may help some of them find jobs, it cannot protect them from inequality. Cha, a former journalist, does not judge the prevalence of plastic surgery in South Korea; with her novel, she seeks instead to shed light on the precariousness and hope that may underlie the decision to resort to such procedures. Protagonists Ara, Kyuri, Miho, Sujin, and Wonna all deal with the pressures of an image-conscious society differently, but they’re bound by the Seoul apartment building they live in. The city around them is tough, but what I found unforgettable were the tiny but huge ways these characters present themselves to each other. – JYK

    Buy If I had your face from Bookshop.org

  • Cover of the book Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

    By Safia Elhillo

    As an aspiring poet in the same poetic circles as Safia Elhillo, I have long marveled at her ability to transform language into a kind of symphony, always playing a song I had never encountered before, using instruments that I didn’t even know. knowledge existed. With his first verse novel, Elhillo brings his literary gifts to a new form, but the language still sings as you read it. Nima is a first generation Muslim teenager who feels caught in a liminal space between her life in the United States and the life she imagines she had in her homeland. Without saying too much, I will say that the book follows her journey as she meets a girl named Yasmeen, who helps her understand that she might not have to look as far as she thinks to find. what she is looking for: “She is not my sister, we are opposite ends of one / possibility of an only child forming in / our mother’s womb waiting to be shaped by a name / once for all.” Home is not a country is categorized as a young adult book, but readers of all ages will revel in Elhillo’s magnificent writing. – CS

    Buy Home is not a country from Bookshop.org

  • Cover of the book With Teeth by Kristen Arnett

    By Kristen Arnett

    The characters in Mostly dead things, Kristen Arnett’s acclaimed debut novel of 2019, goes through their grief in a haphazard way. Jessa-Lynn takes over the family taxidermy business after her father’s suicide; the beer in their store refrigerator is her staunch companion. Her mother, meanwhile, turns to shocking forms of artistic expression. The book was both gripping and familiar, a portrait of the grief that grieving can do and the work it takes to come out of emotional trenches. His next novel, With Teeth, is another gloriously messy and eminently Floridian story of family dysfunction. The book follows Sammie Lucas, a woman whose relationship with her son, Samson, was marred by fear as she nearly lost him early in her childhood. Sammie’s workaholic wife Monika resists acknowledging the divide between women and their son, instead content to promote an image of them as “a happy and well-adjusted little family of three, gay, but otherwise. like everyone “. A sin Mostly dead things, Arnett pays brutal forensic attention to the pain that escalates when family members ignore their injuries and those they inflict on others. – HG

    Buy With Teeth from Bookshop.org

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